How Memphis women's basketball coach Katrina Merriweather ended up hiring her sister

Memphis women's basketball coach Katrina Merriweather tells the story, from more than 20 years ago, as a way of explaining that her sister was destined to be a basketball coach. She was watching game film on a "fuzzy" VCR tape with the rest of her basketball-savvy family, trying to identify a specific player.

After hours and hours of trying to find one specific player, Kabrina Merriweather, then just 8 years old, came up to the TV and said, “There she is.”

So Katrina Merriweather didn't look far when a new position became available on her staff this offseason. She had her sister on the sideline ready to step in.

Memphis women's basketball coach Katrina Merriweather (left) hired her sister Kabrina Merriweather as an assistant coach with the Tigers.
Memphis women's basketball coach Katrina Merriweather (left) hired her sister Kabrina Merriweather as an assistant coach with the Tigers.

Kabrina Merriweather has been making all the right moves to align herself for a position like this for years, much like her older sister. She began with a prominent coaching position within her father’s Indianapolis-based grassroots basketball program, The Family.

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She played at Florida A&M and Georgia Southwestern State and, most recently, worked as an assistant coach at New Mexico under coach Mike Bradbury, who was previously Katrina Merriweather's boss at Wright State.

Katrina Merriweather said her sister's fearlessness is what made her the best fit for this job.

“We have this family that supports you in a way that makes you not afraid to go out and try anything.” said Katrina Merriweather, who is 13 years older than K. “If we mess up, we can always just go back home and start over. Brina went to FAMU and I only went about 90 miles from home. Then we go to Georgia Southwestern for her graduation and find out it’s home to Jimmy Carter and it was the coolest thing ever.”

Katrina Merriweather comedically mentions Kabrina Merriweather is the favorite daughter. She discusses a time when her sister changed her contact name in their mother’s phone to favorite daughter. Their mother never changed it back

Tigers Head Coaches Katrina Merriweather and Penny Hardaway chat during Memphis Madness at the FedExForum on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Tigers Head Coaches Katrina Merriweather and Penny Hardaway chat during Memphis Madness at the FedExForum on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

Katrina Merriweather says the decision to add her sister to her staff is not one she took lightly, even though there are plenty of father-son or spousal combinations on coaching staffs around the country. She thought it over for a long period of time.

“She is the most important person in my life,” Kabrina Merriweather said. “Nothing, I mean nothing, is worth our relationship and losing my sister. It was not a no-brainer type of choice. It was something she had to think about before she picked up the phone. It’s been a dream of mine to work for her."

Katrina Merriweather discussed the decision to bring Kabrina to Memphis with her existing staff. They were ecstatic and could not wait to add another Merriweather to their roster. Memphis associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Abby Jump created a graphic combining Merriweather family photographs to announce the hiring.

“The graphic popped up in the family group chat and they all lost it,” Katrina Merriweather said.

Other members of the Merriweather family, including their parents, were nervous because of how important they are to each other and how seriously they take their jobs. The excitement to have the basketball coaching duo in the same city doing what they love the most soon outweighed any hesitancy.

Katrina Merriweather talked to both her parents about the idea before it was official. She wanted to make sure she was leaning toward “yes” before bringing it to their mother’s attention. She knew how heartbreaking it would be for her if the deal fell through.

For awhile, their mother was the middleman. Katrina Merriweather would call with her concerns or questions about the choice, and then moments later their mother would hear her ringtone again and it would be Kabrina Merriweather wanting to discuss a similar topic. The Merriweather sisters remember their mother crying tears of joy when they were ready to move forward.

Katrina Merriweather emphasized she will always do what is best for the players in her program. If there comes a time where she feels like her sister’s puzzle piece no longer fits into her Memphis puzzle, she says she won't be afraid to have the difficult conversation.

Due to state nepotism laws, Kabrina Merriweather will officially report to executive associate athletic director Lauren Ashman, who is also the administrator overseeing Memphis women's basketball.

“We sat down and we made a list of positives and negatives,” said Merriweather's father, Kevin.

“They are both under pressure,” he added. “When the decision was made to do the hire, you could not find a father that was more proud. Where do you have two sisters doing this? Two Black, female sisters, coaching Division 1 level, one’s a head coach and the other an assistant. People don’t like to talk about things like this but I am proud of what they have accomplished."

Kabrina Merriweather prides herself in being a skilled post coach, and wants to be a head coach some day like her sister. She believes being with her sister every day will put her on a fast track to achieving this goal.

Alexis Davis is a sports reporting intern for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Contact her at alexis.davis@commericalappeal.com.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: How Memphis' Katrina Merriweather wound up hiring her sister